Actress Lara Jean Chorostecki dishes on playing Freddie Lounds in the TV drama Hannibal and what it’s like to rehash the story of Dr. Hannibal Lecter and working with a trio of great actors.

With four novels and five films featuring the iconic psychopath Dr. Hannibal Lecter—made famous by Oscar-winning actor Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs— one might think his story is said and done. But with characters so complex and mysterious as Dr. Lecter, can we ever really get enough?

Not according to television producer and writer, Bryan Fuller, who has brought back the twisted mind of the famous doctor (based on the Thomas Harris novels) we love to hate onto the TV screen in the NBC series Hannibal.

In this version, Hannibal explores the early relationship between the renowned psychiatrist (played by Mads Mikelson) and his patient, a young FBI criminal profiler (Hugh Dancy), who is haunted by his ability to empathize with serial killers. It also explores a cast of characters who are immersed in Hannibal Lecter’s world including relentless tabloid reporter, Freddie Lounds (Lara Jean Chorostecki), who will stop at nothing to get a story. But does she also show signs of sociopathic tendencies?

According to Canadian actress, Lara Jean Chorostecki—who has made a name for herself on the Stratford stage and several movie and television series, including Camelot, Brandon Cronenberg’s feature film Antiviral, BBC America’s 1860s Irish cop drama Copper, Beauty and the Beast, Republic of Doyle and The Listener—when you’re in the world of Hannibal, anything can happen.

In a recent interview, Chorostecki dished about what it’s like being on the hit show, turning the character (played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in Red Dragon) female, and how those super tight red curls help her dig into the mindset of her character’s sociopathic nature.

Hannibal is a character we can’t seem to get enough of. What was it about the project that appealed to you?

Chorostecki: Because it’s been redone so much you can run into the problem of people saying, “Why re-do this again? What’s different?” Of course, that’s your first instinct going back to this story that’s been done quite well so many other times. What intrigued me was that Bryan Fuller was behind it and he’s incredible. His track record of really quality TV speaks for itself. His imagination is amazing. Also, David Slade (The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) was signed on for the pilot and his work is also great. Then it was basically Mads, Hugh and Laurence being on board that sealed the deal. So, when you look at a story that’s been rehashed, you just need to look at this trio of actors and you know it’s going to be stellar. Everything about this project was so appealing.

Were you surprised when you got the part?

Chorostecki: Of course! David Slade helped me along in the audition process and really helped me to figure out who my character was.

You play Freddie Lounds who is, in the novels and in previous films, a male character. What was it like turning Freddie female and did you look back to other people’s performances?

Chorostecki: Of course I wanted to forge ahead and make my own character but I did actually re-watch Red Dragon because I remembered really enjoying it. I’ve seen all of them before this project including Manhunter. In a way, re-watching it and reading the scripts and book, I realized that the character had so much room that it didn’t really really matter that the character was initially male. But what I really love about this version of my character is that Bryan has taken some of the stuff from the novel and kept it in tact. There’s a great line in one of the episodes where Will Graham says to Freddie that her style of reporting “is obnoxious” and that’s directly lifted from the Thomas Harris novel. It’s great that although we’re putting our own spin on her, the level of sociopathy and her no-holds-barred attitude in order to get what she wants, is still in tact. I like that this could be translated and that gender doesn’t really matter. Even though she’s female, we’re not making her any less shrewd.

Tell me a bit about your Freddie?

Chorostecki: My Freddie is ambitious and she doesn’t have much of a moral center. But I think she’s learning along the way that she has to temper herself to be able to get what she really wants. She’s still not really willing to compromise but she’s willing to play ball a little more with the powers that be in order to get ahead. That said, her number one concern is herself.

Is it fun to play a character who is so entirely different from you personally?

Chorostecki: Yes it is! She’s really fun to play because she’s so opposite from me. Freddie would never say “sorry!” It’s great to sort of reach way down deep inside yourself and find those little bits of amoral tendencies or in Freddie’s case, sociopathic tendencies, and bring them out and be able to expand them. That’s the joy of being an actor and playing characters that are so diverse and opposite to myself.

Because of the gender bender of this role, did Bryan Fuller give you some creative freedom with Freddie?

Chorostecki: Yes, absolutely, and Bryan has such a long trajectory for these characters that we’re constantly building them out. There’s a certain blueprint ahead for her because of the novels but whether or not he decides to stick clearly to them, remains to be seen. But there’s definitely growth. Even within the mythology there are things that she does in the books that we can explore. It’s such a creative atmosphere on set in all areas so everyone has a creative say.

I heard that British reporter Rebekah Brooks was a strong blueprint for the character. Did you read about her for inspiration?

Chorostecki: Oh absolutely I did! I read a great article about her in Vanity Fair called “Untangling Rebekah Brooks.” It’s a great expose on her own career trajectory and it was great to read and gave me insight into this woman and what got her to where she is now and her troubles. I thought, “What about that can I use?” A lot of it is useful to understand what a woman in this day and age needs to do to get to the top of her career.

Let’s talk about Freddie’s hair! How long does it really take to get those curls so tight and precise?

Chorostecki: The hair is amazing! To get those curls so tight, when we first started it took about two and a half to three hours. But eventually we got it down to an hour and a half! Over the span of eight months we got it down right. The hair was also inspired by Rebekah Brooks so that was the kind of starting point of her whole look. It certainly helps me when I’m sitting in that chair going through that bit of transformation. When the hair is all done, I think, “Oh yeah, that’s Freddie.”

Hannibal has such a great cast including Hugh Dancy, Mads Mikkelsen and Laurence Fishburne? What’s it like on set and working with these great actors?

Chorostecki: They’re all so amazing! I mean, Laurence is Laurence. His experience just speaks for itself. He’s incredible. Hugh is such an amazing actor. With his character, you feel for him. He’s able to show many layers and even with all of his character’s psychological issues and quirks you still want to hug him. I’m lucky because my character gets to interact with everyone. With Mads, he’s really shown me that being subtle can be powerful. He can show almost nothing on his face and you know exactly what he’s thinking. He’s extremely charismatic and he’s really brilliant and inspiring to watch. I sound like a little schoolgirl, but going head to head with Laurence Fishburne is awesome! Working with this cast makes me elevate my own level of acting by simply stepping up onto the plate and being on par with these guys.


Hannibal airs on Thursdays at 10 p.m. est on NBC. Don’t miss it!


Press photo of Chorostecki © Shaun Benson

—By Toni-Marie Ippolito



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